I went for a quick trip in the province to at least unwind from the city's busyness since I felt I was about to burn out. I had been drowned with a lot of work lately that I barely write blogs and play games. I felt circling routines and never had the chance to move forward. I had a crazy schedule, and cramming for deadlines and rushing for an outcome for my research didn't help at all.
Sometimes we start with minute tremors of hesitation like a pause over a planned dinner, meeting up with friends, and catching up on sleep. We changed our groceries not simply for cookies and potato chips. Some will have an inexplicable affinity to modular furniture and kitchen appliance. I am only in my mid-twenties, but I can say adulting is real. We can't escape adulting since it is inevitable. Adulting was indeed overflowing from little things.
Adulting is working from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. work, which consumes most of our day. We usually reach our homes late and even worst when it's traffic. Sometimes hang out a little bit. We eat dinner, take a shower, and then retire to bed. That is Monday through Friday, rinse and repeat. Giving ourselves a pause can be of great help. Our cities can help if we can have places to unwind that will not cut our time. Maybe parks and urban forests. Adulting entails more than just going to work. It is about fitting everything and balancing work, play, and life. Adulting is difficult.
Although it doesn't come out in thin air or in a sudden harsh way, adulting keeps us on the rat race. When the time comes, it comes to us like a thief in the night, and we'll be saying goodbye to our youth before we realize it. Sound crazy, right? It is real. That is why I find it fitting to have little breaks so that we will not succumb to burnout or, at worst, depression. Some will call it a nightmare, but others gladly welcome it. For me, adulting seems just another day for hustle and play.
When I finish university, I love a blur of spontaneous pleasures. I had planned my life, but curveballs divert it from the original track. I did have a job that no need to log in on a timecard. It was Slurpee of flexible time. But the downside was, there is not a straightforward career path. I was enthusiastic and eager to learn. My weekends disintegrated, and each moment was like vivid motion pictures of youth in revolt. But life crept up on me gradually. The days were shorter, the party began to taste stale, and the evenings were no longer as enticing as they always were.
As the brutal truth of our aging generation is inevitable, so does the reality of adulting. We felt already fatigued from standing up, swaying, and singing along to the songs of our favorite jamming songs. Growing old is when we decide to narrow down our circle of friends to only the ones we care about, opposed to the larger ones we used to hang out with before. We became too exhausted to care, helpless against the march of time.
It seems that deep in ourselves that the good old days are a treasure trove of memories. Although adulting gives us the freedom that we don't have before, we are still not free from the burden of adulting. We are barely swimming through modernity as we age gracefully. When we are a child, we want to be an adult badly. Isn't it ironic? Now we are adults. We want to pause from time to time.
We can't deny the perks and burden of adulting. When we are adults, we exercise the freedom we wished for from our childhood. We can drown ourselves with leisure and pleasure. We have hundreds of restaurants, cafés, and even clubs. We hang out all we want and enjoy our cities imaginatively built spaces. But it is sometimes overbearing and overstimulating to the point that it fails to describe what life is.
Our adulting trap is like being stuck in traffic over and over again. We have no choice either drown or swim through. We commute to work in the city. Every day we see the massive new structures all around us. We have hotels, resorts, and pubs to hang out, but sometimes there is a void from what we are experiencing. Are we truly free? Are we truly living? I asked myself over and over again. I can only perceive one answer over and over again. Most of us are barely living. We work to put food on our tables, have a roof over our heads, and sometimes do leisure.
A big part of easing the burden of our adulting is our built environment and where we live. We can link our quality of life in the city to how accessible, inclusive the city is. We can say the quality is high when we can deal with our adulting at ease, but it is poor when we see clear segregation between rich and poor. A healthy city can embrace and make constructive use of the disparities in class, ethnicity, and lifestyles that it includes. Whereas, we can consider a sick city isolates and segregates differences, drawing no collective power from its diverse population.
Our adulting problem can be less of a burden if our built environment inspires and influences us to be better. A better city landscape with parks and forests will surely be of help. Everything intertwined. Where we live, how we travel about, and our environmental effect are all inextricably intertwined. Our simple adulting woes can be alleviated by how well our city embraces wellness and survival in its design.
I guess the problem, it appears, was not the modernist desire to alter the world. We were led astray by an image of what we look for as a modern. That faulty imagery of a concrete and dystopian built world has affected us in so many ways. We turned the world into a machine, reshaping our daily lives, and that world appeared to be full of endless possibilities for a while. But if we look closely, it becomes too burdensome and overstimulating. It is a metaphor for what we see as better. Only if we walk into the open air and celebrate the intertwining of things, we may not be at a pitfall of our modernity. We need to think more of the beings and not things.
When we asked to look ahead, we shared our experiences and stories. Not long ago, we are at university or even in high school. We dream of what we will be when we grow up. We were at that shoes, and we can still remember the daydreaming. It was all too familiar, lingering like the sound of the waves long after we'd smashed ashore. When we're high on our youthful audacity, we always seek new beginnings and more adventures. But not too long, life overtakes us, and adulting starts drowning us that we can barely swim. We left ourselves with a long crawl to some weekend where we reset our sanity.
All photos courtesy of the author
Readings on Adulting and Urbanity
Albertine M. L. Van Diepen and Sako Musterd, Lifestyles and the city: connecting daily life to urbanity, Journal of Housing and the Built Environment
Philip Kennicott, Designing to Survive, The Washington Post Magazine